WKW: 东邪西毒 (1994) Ashes of Time Redux


It’s getting increasingly difficult for me to review WKW’s films. I have no idea he does it really o___0 I’m on my 3rd of his works, Ashes of Time Redux (I’m still looking for a good quality of the original as I’ve heard there are vast differences resulted from the twitching) and I’m baffled, intrigued, and awe-struck. I dunno what to say about this film, it’s whimsical, sometimes confusing, strange.. hmm I dunno I’m lost for words.

The film is Wuxia, but yet again, WKW doesn’t entrap and restrain himself to this specific genre. I sense so many things creep up from underneath, from the dialogues and the lines that define WKW’s perception of love and life in film. I see all his characters go through physical and emotional strain, highlighted in the most unconventional ways, through narratives presented in different point of views (in particular Ou Yang Feng’s). The film is artistically and gorgeously presented, with brushes and strokes of iridescent colors, overlap of layers, blurriness of scenes, mixture of tone and mood you get me, but yet it feels emotionally rich and enhancing, with a deepening message that pieces up and lingers once you get to the end. I think I get it, the notion of internally mourning the loss of love and grieving over the past and what could have been. But I think if I rewatch, I will definitely discover more. There must be, given WKW’s thought process into making something this queer.

Leslie oh Leslie, I’m such a latecomer to your awesomeness that I feel sad you’re no longer around no more T____T I’ve only seen his comedic CNY stuff in the past and NOOOO, I didn’t know he had such gravitas and charm that could just literally just burn a house! The same way Tony does it, effortless! I love his Ou Yang Feng, as cynical and impassive as he may seem, it’s impossible to not like or show interest in him. The way he spends his time with the different characters (played by the truly stellar cast, maybe a lil exception, Briggite Lin seemed a bit OTT at times), the way his pre-conceived notions and perceptions waver from his learning from life experiences with these people. Feels bitter and painful, truthfully agonizing at times, but so beautifully heightened by how WKW highlights his dynamics with them.

I am not going to get into a review (it’d be half-baked anyway) because I simply am not up to it, I just can’t. This film requires eloquence and articulation of thoughts that can make you feel the film reading it as much as you’re watching, something which I profess not to have at all. All my stuff are merely dragonfly touches on the water, I don’t think I’ve even dug thru the surface yet!

But as usual,  a memorable and fav scene from the film:

A scene that really reaches out, and defines human frailty when faced with insecure thoughts, a point in the film that made Ou Yang Feng think twice about his life. Hong Chat’s lines I will never forget, because what he says is shockingly true, how second thoughts make a difference in decisions. How they frame what you are and who you are.

In short, an exquisite wuxia film from WKW.  Stylised and strange as expected, but surprisingly gripping from within.

credits: youtube/ picture as tagged


22 thoughts on “WKW: 东邪西毒 (1994) Ashes of Time Redux”

  1. I love the Redux more, it’s not as inaccessible as the 1994 original (but I haven’t rewatched that one) I had such a hard time grasping Ashes of Time in theater (was in HS and total fanatic fangirl of the lead wuxia superheros in the original LouisCha, or so I thought). Along with Happy Together, I thought it was his most depressing work….masters of their ‘jiangwu’/ universe, with still so much attachment, but are on self-imposed exile. circa the sociopolitcal climate of 1994 HK.

    If Leslie was with us, and not suffering from his debilitating depression, he would have everything it takes to fight for TL for my vote for the best of the best living actor alive. Watch Days of Being Wild. He has it, and his acting style is less introspective and precise than TL (imo TL has reached thespian nirvana, it I can put it as that) BUT Leslie’s acting was effervescing with more addictive emotional verve.

    1. LOL on TL reaching nirvana, he’s not Tony Leung for no reason.

      Oh I was planning to watch the original in the first place, but I couldn’t find a good DL-able version (sucks). I read that there were stuff that WKW had taken deleted/added in the redux. Kinda curious about the things that made the stark difference in the overall vibe/feel (as alleged by some).

      Sighs, the more you say the more I’m holding tears about Leslie’s coming 10th yr departure. I may not have known him “the actor” as much but I do remember loving most of the stuff I’ve seen of his (I think mostly his CNY stuff with Mou Mou). And my memory stays, that his acting seemed a bit more implosive? Maybe a tad more relatable in whatever type of role given. TL is amazing but there were some films or acting of his that I didn’t like or couldn’t relate to (mostly the crappy pointless ones). And yeah if Leslie was alive, he would have been able to give TL a run of his money.

      1. I think what TL is truly above the rest is he can put himself to use in anything, he is the actor form of WKW, I find every of his acting job so full of tiniest of nuances even in crap, it’s insane. Not that you should revisit the crappy ones because he truly did a lot of everything, but I have and it amazed me to no end, really.

        gosh I’m now curious to watch the 1994 one, I do not like it tbh, it really was too indulgent and pretentious. I’m a loyalist when it comes to perfectly essayed characterization in louis Cha and these 5 supergrandmasters are there. So when I felt like WKW takes a shade of each of them and magnified it to almost encompassing the entire character, I was annoyed.

        haha if u need a break watch Eagles Shooting Heroes if you haven’t. I rewatched it recently and while I thought it was plain silly HKslapstick back then, it was a ball of mindless magical starstudded fun that can never be revamped.

      2. Ah, now I get, it must be because I’m not familiar with the literary stuff, Louis Cha or even Wuxia. Might have turned off some fans of the novel when WKW decided to just ride by their character names in the film and not stick to anything in the original. I read in Wiki that nothing in the original, novel and characters were retained, tho I dunno how true? Were any of the character traits similar to novel?

        For a true TL fan, you deserve an award and standing ovation girl! I get influenced by crappy stuff very easily, no matter how good the performance is. If the film really cannot be salvaged, I automatically consider it a big X in my book and immediately forget about the performances, whoever the actors are. Unless I revisit them again one day, which I don’t think I will ever have the time to, I don’t think I’ll be able to appreciate as much.

        Will try Eagles Shooting Heroes for sure, but my next, Fallen Angels? Not everyone’s fav I heard but I wanna get it done before I embark on Happy Together. Days of Being Wild I will do together with ITMFL and 2046 later on. 😉

        That said, I am enjoying THIS short WKW project!

  2. TL is almost always pitch perfect for whatever character he is playing. Lust Caution is the best example where he has to and does it so well in ridding all his usual charm. Nonetheless, he will never win my heart in the way Leslie did. Leslie has that sensual vulnerability – even though he is playin a tough character – that is so heart-tugging. So very pleased with his performace in Days of Being Wild being voted as the best ever performance at LoverHKfilms, despite ahead of my (and perhaps everyone’s) favorite of CYF’s Mark Gor.

    By the way, are you now up to Leslie’s cha cha in ILCDD?

    1. Nope not yet.. I think. I’m up to E 126 right now, been busy with CNY preparations and stuff. I didn’t miss the special yet right? Could have seen it and totally forgot, watching too many stuff :p

      This making more excited for Days of Being Wild. 😀

  3. Ladies… Leslie in DOBW? TT__TT
    Wins most memorable WKW character, ever, albeit by a very small margin. At least for me, so I wasn’t surprised seeing him top that list.

    I’m a bad WKW fangirl though, I haven’t watched Ashes of Time or Happy Together. I could rectify AoT but not the other. I just remember hearing some random vague complaints and things about it and can’t even remember exactly what they were, they were probably what you girls have mentioned above.
    But ripgal; more WKW brownie points to you! xD

    1. ^Thanks, I’m enjoying this venture a lot! I just watched the Berlin Festival interview by the TGM cast and WKW, and my my I was surprised, I didn’t know they were all well-versed in English! It’s funny how the cast always gets probed about WKW’s peculiar directing style (filming without a script beforehand) when almost everyone’s well aware of how he works LOL loved how TL answered, that if you understand who you are as an actor, nothing is a problem.

      I’ve read a lot of complaints too, but I think it has a lot to do with the material referred from, not specifically genre. But Leslie did capture my attention the most, not just because he’s the main character, but it’s just the way epyc says it, there is frailty and vulnerability in him when his character doesn’t seem like one to be burdened by. I am now looking forward more and more to watching Days of Being Wild. heeee~~

      1. *sigh* Chingu, every April Fool’s since 2003, I will rewatch DoBW as my little vigil. I’m surprised you are not a Leslie fangirl but you watch HK cinema. But if you are lured into the fandom with AoT, DoBW will keep you put forever.

      2. But..butbut…HK was a British colony! haha most of us of the generation prior to say 80s if paid enough attention in class can speak English fairly fluent. XD

        But TL have said he is fluent in English (back of my mind recall he dropped out of HS) because he was a very lonely withdrawn child of a single Mom and his escape was watching Sesame Street.

        btw, I’m curious what you saw of TL you thought he’s horrible in, Red Cliff?!

      3. ^ I think mostly the silly ones, like 天下无双, 同居蜜友 etc. I actually did like Red Cliff a lot back then, but his performance was just okay I think, not much to commend. I do remember the particularly hilarious cow giving birth scene tho, I dunno why. 😛

        Anyway I dun think I’ve watched enough his films considering the bulk that he’s had under his belt. I think my first serious foray into his stuff – Infernal Affairs. Must watch more. Have you seen absolutely everything of HIS?

    2. oh Supah, you NEED to watch Happy Together, esp if u r a Leslie fangirl, Yuddy is my fav WKW character bar none, but his PoWing will forever own a very soft bruised part forever, through the (gosh) 20+ years I’ve fallen under WKW’s spell, I have been joggling DoBW, HT, ItMoL as the best work of WKW, with ChungKing eternally my sentimental fav (it was WKW defining moment, CK was a ball of most passionate, a bit messy but most precious naivete on his part, much more spontaneous and organic, thus relatable.

      1. ripgal *hyperventilates* Infernal Affairs… Don’t even… But I somehow liked Andy Lau a wee bit more in that though,hehe.

        mookie: but even as a genuine quality outing it’s slash. And I’m pure *cough* and innocent *chokes* and if I was to see that I would never be able to unsee it. Not narrow-minded honest, it’s more ‘do what you want, just don’t make me watch you’. I tend to be a little tomboyish in taste but I’m still a gentle-lady (read: wuss) at best, there are still so many things I can’t handle. Haha!
        Unless the love scenes are kept to a comfortable minimum or something but come on, this is WKW, even his hetero stuff is too hot to be legal. Heh.

  4. @ripgal, erm. YES OF COURSE!!!!! I’ve seen absolutely everything of his, not that I like a lot of them of course, imo HK cinema in 90s golden age was full of obscene commercial duds I can’t stand, I’m again shocked anyone who watches HK drama/cinema/C cinema like you can escape watching the bulk of what he’s done, chingu!!! How do you do it?!?!?!?!!?

    We have very different taste in acting style, that’s for sure. TL can do no wrong in my book. And argh Supah, Andy Lau’s perf in IA is his best circa that period, but next to TL, it’s like a whiny attention seeking chilid, but again, that’s just my opinion. Every outing, my love for Andy eroded more and more after…his cameo in DoBW.

    But then I’m of a whole gen (or 2) older, growing up watching TL(and Stephen Chow) being a host of a TVB Sesame St equivalent, and he got my heart then, I own and rewatch every single one of his TVB dramas, I know it’s widely considered the 90s is golden age of TVB, but not for me, it’s the 80s, 5 tigers and Leslie. Tony’s breakout is actually Police Cadet with MaggieCheung in 1984, it’s the first talk of the town megahit I experienced and enrollment in police force skyrocketed because of him. No one can escape his ‘wrath’ even the guys. Before bromance wascoined (and shipping) I wanted Andy and TL to be in every one of my TVB dramas, they have such awesome chemistry, he brought out the best of Andy and vice versa in their TVB days in 獵鷹 and my eternal fav TVB drama 鹿鼎記. tbh I picked my field because his movie 癲佬正傳planted that interest in me. And it was his perf there plus his mute in A City of Sorrow (1989) that I was absolutely sure TL has it to be a movie actor.

    I get it, You must be harboring serious dislike of TL, he must’ve rubbed you the wrong way in sth and you counted him off. He was lovely in 天下无双 (and I love that movie to bits) and 同居蜜友 was not that horrible as far as I can recall. Sammie can’t act, that’s for sure. Argh, I absolutely HATE RC. HATEEEEEE, but I understand the dazzle, quite sure you are not a fanatic of the Romance of 3 Kingdoms. haha and it’s a horse birthing, not cow.

    Imo TL is so out of the league of all those sorry excuses of ‘actresses’ (and actors, prettyTakeshi can’t act as well outside of WKW’s directing) he has to work with, all his less golden perf are against vases (oh lordy LCL…*HIVES*) if he’s not working with someone his level, he’ll dial it in, I can almost feel his frustration, as if just to keep himself from going nuts from all the halfassery around, esp when he’s doing it out of loyalty (for JohnWoo lately) or for he can’t get his way out of it. I bet you haven’t seen 地下鐵(and no need), imo Miriam Yeung should never ever act, EVER. Love in the Puff could’ve been so much more precious and seminal in the hands of any actress. Any.

    1. Awww.. nah I don’t harbor any dislike towards TL. He’s divine that not many can be at his level, but it’s a matter of taste and preference in films. I tend to dismiss performances based on the quality of stuff or on my dislike of genre (I’m not very fond of HK comedy gags or rom coms, the old ones yes, but not the ones now), so rest assured, your TL is still UP THERE! haha XD

      And shit on RC, yes it was a horse! Its name was Meng Meng or something, and Lin Chi Ling’s voice I can never forget LMAO

      1. lolz it’s ok dear to not like Tony. I rem DearKoala prefer the old Tony when he’s doing comedy and was an idol heartthrob pre85. She said sth like she did not enjoy any of his serious work because she can’t stand him miserable.

  5. @supah

    It’s a love story, simple as that, you don’t care for watching 2 people in love?!?! Even if it’s toxic and heartbreaking, it’s beautiful. O___o I would never call it slash I watched the movie in theater before I’m legal, and I truly do not notice the homosexuality in forefront but 2 person just like me hopelessly in love with another person who is also as hopelessly in love.

    I find WKW very tasteful and never exploitative (maybe except that scene in FA), he’s very effective in building the mood, maximizing the intense, combustion going on, but in no way i find him too much.

    Do you like Ang Lee? Have you seen Lust, Caution? I’m just mighty curious if you have, how do you compute that.

    1. What a ride this discussion is! I am allergic to Andy Lau with his acting so hard to act being the killer reason. Also I’d appreciate his acknowledging sooner his real age than trying to think/act like he’s still in his 30s. (Just look at how comfortable Chow Yun Fat is with his age and then whatever character he’s taking these days though I understand Andy Lau has the other half of his career: singing to worry about. On that note, he is not Jacky Cheung either.) Having said that, Andy Lau does have a few movies that are my favorites especially those directed by Johnnie To.

      Tony Leung in my view is the best HK actor of his generation but he has done too many crap movies in his younger days that blur the perceptions towards him. Even his takes in Wong Jing gigs are still very good. Then, of course he has only picked good/art house projects for the past 15 years or so.

      Happy Lunar New Year to every one!

    2. OMGosh, Lust, Caution – it still doesn’t compute, but the ending was pretty sad, and I liked the song she sang at the traditional restaurant. But yeah, that’s irrelevant, haha!

      HT: oohhh… I guess I’ll have to take your word for it mookie, I’ll watch it. ‘specially since I love both actors enough to give them that chance. And I should be safe in the knowledge it’s NOT gonna be crude and exploitative and obvious and stuff. xD

      1. imo HT is WKW’s most focused work in narrration, there is a crystal clarity in what he’s trying to convey and all the musings on the HK political climate then, it was very seminal and a perfect time capsule. There are intimate scenes (intimate, not gratuitous, not much skin shown at all) but i don’t see why not, they are lovers afterall, so I’m not sure if you can tolerate them, but if you can get past it, it’s one of WKW’s best work.

      2. mookie: Ohh, no definitely nothing against anything organic and heartfelt like that. I’ll report back when I’ve watched it, definitely, and then I can hate myself for ignoring it all these years.
        Leslie Cheung, man! ❤

        epyc: I will always have a soft spot for Andy's ATGB, DOBW and Infernal Affairs characters, but I hear you! I watched the What Women Want HK remake on a recent flight — he's not aged a day, but, there's only so much mileage you can get playing such caddish characters. Tony's made fantastic career choices in last 15 years, well noted. And proves again and again why he has no peer. (Of course CYF is another generation/class of actor altogether.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s